What is meant by a “small apartment” in different countries of the world?

Houzz Беларусь: Квартира в сталинке для молодой семьи

The purpose of our article is not to collect and show the most unusual examples of small apartments around the world (hundreds of publications on the network are devoted to this certainly interesting topic). But, frankly, the phenomenon of micro-apartments is not widespread. And those tricks in the field of design of a small-sized apartment, which allow the owners to rationally organize the space, are more reminiscent of a kind of “whims of millionaires” and at the selling price are comparable to buying another apartment of the same kind.

In this post, we were more interested in real life in really small apartments around the world. How is the minimum square meter defined at the legal level in different countries? An apartment of what size is legally considered tiny in Australia or France, Japan or Sweden. And how do residents of other countries in Europe and Asia cope with the shortage of square meters.

Scott Weston Architecture Design PL

Australia: 56 sqm
Let’s start from afar and with big numbers. As it turned out, Australia is one of the most comfortable countries in terms of small-sized housing. In April 2015, the NSW Government legislatively increased the minimum size for new buildings. In their opinion, a small one-bedroom apartment should not be less than 56 square meters (versus the previous 50 square meters). Sydney residents, by the way, are not too happy with this regulation – fewer apartments will be built, the price of “extra meters” will increase the cost of the apartment as a whole. Rumor has it that Melbourne is next in line in regulating the issue of apartments under construction.

Unlike Russian small-sized apartments, which are rented “in concrete” (and domestic municipal decoration does not require the highest quality materials), in Australia apartments are offered not only with good finished, but even equipped with household appliances.

Architecture Architecture

It must be said that such fabulous sizes of small apartments are more related to new buildings, and with the area of ​​the old housing stock, the situation in Australia is similar to the Russian one. Sydney and the country’s major metropolitan areas have a huge number of modest-sized apartments. We have already published an article about the remodeling of a local commune house, which was commissioned in the 1930s. So, this miniature apartment was not supposed to have a full-fledged kitchen. And pay attention to the dispensing window in the back of the room between the room and the kitchen-hallway: cars from public canteens delivered ready-made meals to the workers’ houses to it – it was assumed that later they would be served in the common canteen.



Japan: 25-28 sqm
On average, the minimum apartment size in Tokyo is about 28 square meters. In some areas, for example, in vibrant Shibuya, until 2013 the legislative norm was housing with an area of ​​18 square meters (now the rate has been increased to 28 square meters). In central Tokyo, it is still not uncommon for an apartment with an area of ​​25 square meters, in this case, it is about single occupancy. A typical Japanese studio apartment, as we would call it, has an area of ​​20-40 square meters, and if you are moving in with a family, the minimum space size will already vary from 40 to 75 square meters.


Fact: The dimensions of Japanese housing are multiples of tatami, and this is taken into account when planning apartments within the house. The area of ​​the bed is 90×180 cm (1.62 sq. M). That is, in an advertisement for renting or buying an apartment, you can find a message about a room measured in tatami.

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Design of a small bedroom (10600 photos)

Churreria Photography

Churreria Photography

Spain: at least 30 sqm
If you are looking for a small apartment in Europe, then in almost all countries the situation is similar. So, in sunny Spain, the minimum area of ​​a small apartment since 2008 is at least 30 square meters, but on average it varies from 50 to 70 square meters.

Spaniards rarely rent housing in small towns – rather, they will live as long as possible under the parental roof in a family home. Real estate prices in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​major cities, are quite high, so the lack of space forces architects to invent very ingenious solutions for organizing space within a studio apartment.

pkmn Arquitectura

The area of ​​this apartment is 44 sq.m. The design idea from Estudio PKMN is based on an OSB cabinet; it was made to order for a young woman when she moved into the apartment where her grandmother once lived. The cabinet consists of three mobile compartments that slide along metal rails.

Thanks to this design, the interior of a small apartment can be easily transformed for different scenarios, while all things – books, electrical appliances and even a bed – remain in their places.

Bertina Minel architecture

Houzz France: 20-meter apartment in the center of Paris

Géraldine Laferté

France: at least 9 m2
If anyone should complain about the cramped small apartments, then the French. According to the law, a new-build studio must be at least 30 sq.m., and if you buy a studio on the secondary market, an apartment of 27 sq.m. is acceptable.

If we are talking about a one-bedroom apartment (what we call “two-room”), then the Parisian standards are quite comparable with the Central Russian Khrushchevs – 46 sq.m. and 41 sq.m. (new building and “secondary housing”).

Fact: If you are renting a house in Paris, you should be offered at least 9 sq.m. per person.


There is another plus in French old micro-apartments – even if it is very small, it will have high ceilings in 90% of cases. Thus, the space looks more like a pencil case extended upwards, which allows it to be divided, creating a comfortable sleeping place on the upper level, while the living room and kitchen are located below.


Italy: 28 sqm of living space
Of course, there are some differences between cities, and in large settlements the minimum bar is raised, but, according to the law, less than this figure, architects simply do not have the right to design modern housing.

However, in Rome or Venice there are still micro-apartments with an area of ​​7-10 sq. M. The Romans use such “bachelor” rooms as an overnight stay on weekdays in order to avoid the colossal traffic jams for which the Eternal City is famous. Advertisements describe such apartments as “functional” and “practical”, but rarely mentions that the apartment has windows.

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Jenna McLaughlin

UK: no norm
It turns out that in foggy Albion there is still no statutory minimum size for housing. But the situation could change at any time, as the government has already begun to study problems in the field of housing construction.

If we talk about the results of the survey of British homeowners, the last one was carried out in 2011, and according to this survey, the minimum size of a one-bedroom home in England is 46 square meters, and a three-bedroom apartment is 88 square meters. Which, of course, does not at all deny the existence of micro-apartments for rent and for sale (we found one of these ads on the network – in London, in the Knightsbridge area, a studio with an area of ​​7.5 square meters was offered, moreover, it was about an apartment with all the amenities – a bed, a kitchen and a bathroom).


Russia: “human” footage
Unlike the European tradition, in Russia, as you know, no one measures the size of small apartments with bedrooms. There is a government decree according to which one person is supposed to have 12 sq.m. total area. But this rule is valid only in relation to apartments from houses for demolition. We all remember well the time when a small-sized Khrushchev building of 30 sq.m. and with a kitchen of no more than 5 m, a whole family was accommodated with a child, as well as with grandparents in addition. However, the cherished dozen meters in law gave them confidence that when they moved the old house into a new apartment, they would certainly get much more, and according to the “human” footage!

Elena Koroleva

Elena Koroleva

Today, despite the massive housing developments, you can find many tiny apartments (studios, as their developers position them) – their footage does not exceed 28-35 sq.m. And here we are not talking about the old housing stock, but about modern new buildings.

If we take typical houses, then the average size of a small apartment is about 45-55 sq.m.

The way we play

House of Beatniks

Sweden: a bet on affordability
As a rule, a small apartment in Sweden is sold for rent with a quality renovation “from a designer”, as we would call it in Russia. Local real estate agencies Alvhem or Stadshem are famous all over the world: in order to rent or sell housing, they work with a design team – they decorate and photograph interiors with a stylist. The shooting turns out to be so inspiring that it is amicably reprinted by design blogs around the world: it is the fruits of their work that in the minds of the layman form the idea of ​​the Scandinavian style and small apartments with white walls.

If we talk about the statistics of square meters, then the minimum “student” housing in Sweden can be found in the size of about 17 square meters, and the footage of the smallest one-bedroom apartment is approximately 20 square meters. Average apartments rented by the same developers are approximately 40 sq.m.

Fact: In Sweden, there is a law according to which you can build housing up to 25 square meters on your land without obtaining a special permit. With the adoption of this law, a real Swedish boom began in the construction of non-standard micro-housing (if you google, it is called attefallshus).

HEJM – Interieurfotografie

HEJM – Interieurfotografie

Germany: different norms in different states
According to the law, a German new building must have heating, running water, a stove and some “sufficient” amount of light and air. There are no clear standards for footage in national legislation – each land (region) adheres to its own.

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If we are talking about a family, then the footage is calculated in the same way as in Russia: 9-10 square meters for an adult and 4-6 square meters for a child under 6 years old. This is expressed in the following: if you rent an apartment, and your family can live in an apartment of this size, more than by law, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease with you. In other words, a family with six children will be denied renting an apartment of 57 sq.m.

If we talk about studios or apartments, then they should not be less than 22-25 square meters (depending on the region). On the initiative of the Bundesbauministerium (German Ministry of Construction), the area of ​​micro-apartments in new buildings should not be less than 22 square meters, including a bathroom and a kitchen.

a-base | büro für architektur

Housing size per capita
It must be said that German realities differ from legislative norms for the better. So, in 2011, the average size of living space per person in Germany as a whole amounted to 42.7 square meters (according to Statistisches Bundesamt).

If we talk about apartments, then the average size of an apartment is 69.6 square meters: if you rent – 59.3 square meters, the average size of your own apartment is 96.8 sq.m.

According to the same survey, for couples with at least one child under the age of 18, there is an average of 35 square meters of own housing per person (24.2 square meters – per person, if we are talking about a rented apartment).

a-base | büro für architektur

New housing developers in Germany tend to increase the living space of apartments. So, according to the 2013 law (Micro-Census by the Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsfoschung (bib)), the average size of the living area of ​​an apartment per person has been increased to 45 square meters! It must be said that in 1965 this figure was at the level of 22.3 square meters per person.

a-base | büro für architektur

Housing size per owner
If we turn to statistical data (Statisches Bundesamt per 1.1. 2013), then the average size of living space in a German apartment is 91.9 square meters – apartments are rented with an average area of ​​69.4 square meters, and 121.9 square meters are put up for sale. m. As a rule, apartments of this size are bought by a family with one child, while childless couples choose housing of a smaller area – 81.5 sq. M.

According to the same statistics, 57% of Germans rent a house, the remaining 43% own their own.

House of Beatniks

What do you personally call a small apartment? How many meters do you think it is “normal” to have for one person to live? Share, what is the area of ​​your apartment and how many people live in it?
About Leona Smith 115 Articles
Hello! My name is Silke and this is my travel blog. I want to show you fascinating places off the beaten track, give you a gentle introduction to history and culture, and help you get around Berlin. After 13 years in Sydney and Andalusia, I now live in Berlin, Germany. I am a travel writer, translator and book author. Read more about me here.

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